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Political turmoil in the United States poses a threat to Canada – Poll

Vehicles clog downtown streets as truckers and supporters continue to protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Blair Gable

According to a recent study, Canadians are afraid that political turmoil in the United States would impair security and economic progress at home, as an anti-vaccine mandate protest praised by former U.S. President Donald Trump gripped the capital and impacted the border.

The news: The Angus Reid Institute survey’s fear serves as a backdrop to rallies around the country, at the international border, and especially in Ottawa, the capital, where authorities said Americans have supplied “substantial” financial and organisational support.

  • The Ottawa protest, now in its 13th day, has been marred by the appearance of hateful symbols such as the Confederate flag, which are associated with Trump supporters’ aggressive populism, and some protesters say their goal is not only to repeal vaccine mandates, but also to overthrow the government.
  • “The success or failure of the United States will have a profound impact on Canada,” said Bruce Heyman, former American ambassador to Canada from 2014-2017. “Part of the more extreme nature of our politics over the last few years has now moved to occupy some part of Canada today.”
  • According to the poll, 78 per cent of Canadians are concerned that America’s political turmoil will have an impact on their country’s economy and security. The survey of 1,620 Canadians took place between January 27 and January 31, the first days of the Ottawa demonstration.
  • Two-thirds of Canada’s 38 million people reside within 100 kilometres (62 miles) of the United States’ border, and the two countries are each other’s most important commercial partners.
  • Canada’s trading connection with the United States is critical to its survival, with 75 per cent of all exports going to the southern neighbour. The United States accounts for half of Canada’s imports, including 60 per cent of all imported fresh veggies.
Clayton Goodwin, a military veteran and member of the Veterans Accountability Commission, demonstrates outside Ottawa Police Service headquarters as truckers and supporters continue to protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Blair Gable

What’s going on: The anniversary of last year’s storming of Capitol Hill in Washington prompted a succession of pieces in Canadian publications raising concerns about American democracy’s endurance in the future years, particularly after the 2024 election.

  • Until recently, Canadian politics was less divisive than that of the United States. One example is vaccination acceptance, with approximately 80 per cent of Canadians having received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to only 64 per cent in the United States.
  • The removal of Conservative opposition leader Erin O’Toole last week, in part because she refused to embrace the protests, signals the political landscape is altering.
  • Some 37 per cent of Canadians say there is no room for political compromise in their country, the poll shows.
  • On Tuesday, Ottawa police said they collaborated with Ohio police to hunt down and arrest a guy who had made false threats “designed to deceive and distract emergency resources”.
  • Canada’s federal Public Safety Minister, Marco Mendicino, stated on Monday that the government would be “very watchful” against external forces and foreign involvement.
  • Last Friday, Trump backed the truckers, calling Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “far-left lunatic.”
A person pretends to drink from a fuel can after police said they will be targeting the truckers’ fuel supply as truckers and their supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 7, 2022. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

What they’re saying: According to an Angus Reid study, 68 per cent of Canadians feel that another Trump administration will be fatal to democracy in the United States, and 47 per cent say that the country is on its path to becoming an authoritarian state.

  • “The United States used to be a beacon of democracy, and now it’s exporting right-wing sedition to other democratic countries,” said Roland Paris, Trudeau’s former foreign policy adviser and professor of international affairs at University of Ottawa.
  • “The worse things get in the United States, the more dangerous it will be for Canada,” Paris said, calling the Ottawa protest a “wake-up call”.
  • “Canadians are astute observers of what’s happening in the United States, and they’re rightly anxious about it,” says Gerry Butts, Vice Chairman of Eurasia Group and former Trudeau’s senior advisor.
  • “In the long term, Canada will be like everyone else… badly damaged if the United States becomes a democracy in name only,” he said.

($1 = 1.2661 Canadian dollars)

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